"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle

I've been planning to go back to Kenilworth Castle to see the Elizabethan garden in the summer so with B and E away on the Isle of Man for a few days (I declined to go as I didn't fancy flying!) I had a few days out on my own this week as D was working and Kenilworth was one of the places I visited.

This post is mainly about the garden rather than the whole castle so if you want to see my blog post earlier this year on the castle itself please see here

Dudley's Gatehouse

Gardens by the gatehouse

Approaching the Elizabethan Garden

The garden that Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, created for the visit of Elizabeth I to Kenilworth Castle in 1575 was recreated by English Heritage in 2009. Her 1575 visit was her fourth to the castle and she stayed for 19 days between 9th and 27th July when a lavish set of entertainments was prepared for her by Robert Dudley including firework displays, hunting and hawking. Detailed information on what the garden contained and what it looked like are available from the eye witness accounts of a Robert Langham. The garden was meant as a privy garden for the queen and her companions only but Langham, helped by a gardener, was able to sneak in on one occasion when she was out hunting and he has described all the main features which has helped immensely in the recreation. The garden was inspired by French and Italian Renaissance gardens. The aviary and obelisks were among the first recorded of these continental features in an English garden. The garden designer is unknown but it may have been Robert Dudley's gardener, Adrian, who is believed to have come from France.

The garden is divided into quarters and in the centre of each quarter is a 4.6 metre high obelisk- an ancient symbol of power and immortality. Each quarter is hedged with laburnum/privet and eglantine roses. Fruits were also grown in the Elizabethan garden and today there are English varieties of fruit trees planted such as "Black Worcester" a variety of pear. Langham describes the sweet scent from "the fragrant herbs and flowers" which may mean the garden was a "gillyflower garden" containing scented flowers such as carnations, pinks, scented stocks and wall flowers. Flowers planted in today's garden were all available in Elizabethan times and are picked to peak each year in July the month of Queen Elizabeth I's visit.

The fountain is the centre piece of the garden. The original and today's version is made of white Carrara marble from Tuscany. The central column has two "Atlants" (Atlas figures who are holding up the sky) discharging continuous jets of water. In 1575 there would have been fish in the basin.

Overlooking the garden is a terrace and at each end there is an arbour planted with vines, honeysuckle and musk roses.

The aviary was built of timber as is today's version. The top cornices were painted to look as though they contained diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. Birds in the aviary today are domesticated species such as lizard canary but in Queen Elizabeth's times the aviary would have contained some African Guinea Fowl which were introduced to Europe in Elizabethan times.

The rest of the photos have a rather weird special effect I am afraid as I had accidentally turned on a filter with a "retro effect" and I had no idea how to get rid of it!

Panels at the base of the fountain have carved scenes from "Metamorphoses" by the Roman poet Ovid. This poem in the form of a narrative tells of the lives and loves of gods and mortals and their transformation into animals and plants.

The panels today include
Neptune with his trident
Triton (son of Neptune) drawn by fishes
Proteus (another son of Neptune) herding "sea-bulls"
Doris and her daughters who were Nereids (sea nymphs)
Thetis in a chariot drawn by dolphins
(These particular scenes on the Elizabethan fountain had been described by Langham ).

Timothy and I had carrot cake and tea in the tearoom while I still tried to work out, without success, how to get rid of the filter effect!

Finally, when I got back to the car I found a further menu in the filters section and there was an option to pick no filters which I clicked on and finally got rid of the retro effects which was just as well as I was off to visit a nearby church and the photos there would have looked most peculiar.

All photos taken by me with the Panasonic Lumix FZ330 bridge camera

Retro effects courtesy of the camera!! :)

Reference: English Heritage Guidebook to Kenilworth Castle


Amanda Peters said...

You did have a lovely day out, and the place is lovely. Nice to see the gardens and the flowers
Now you have found the filter, have a play with them in the garden to see what effect you get, I will use mine quite a bit on my camera.
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much.

I have been meaning to try out the filters for ages but never got round to it! As you say the garden is the best place to experiment. Looks sunny and dry next week so will try some of them out then :)

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely day out - you looked like you had the place to yourself! What a castle, and WHAT a history. Gosh, Queen Elizabeth's retinue must have eaten them out of house and home, staying there for the best part of 3 weeks! Amazing to think of though.

Rustic Pumpkin said...

Well, Timothy keeps popping up, so he's obviously having fun. I was reading recently that these royal visits cost so much that they could financially ruin a family. Enjoyed my visit today, and happy you sorted out your filter!

Ragged Robin said...

Bovey Belle - Thank you and actually it was heaving with people! At one stage there were around 30 school children running round the garden! I just had to carefully pick my time for taking photos! If you are ever in the area the castle is worth visiting as it is just superb and stuffed with history. I think Robert D spent an absolute fortune entertaining her especially building that garden!

Rustic Pumpkin - Thank you - Timothy did enjoy :) I think that visit must have near bankrupted him!! I have a feeling (but don't quote me) that at that stage he was still hoping for her hand in marriage? I was relieved to get that filter off!!! Perhaps I ought to start taking the camera manual with me when I go out! Problem is there is a touch screen at the back (which I don't use) but it is so easy to put on a setting that you don't want!!!

Midmarsh John said...

Another lovely place to visit.
I've been to the IOM twice. Like you I don't fly so I took the ferry from Liverpool. Quite a pleasant voyage as long as the Irish Sea doesn't get too rough.

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - Thank you. They did enjoy themselves although it rained one day. They stopped in Port Erin for 2 nights (my daughter is getting in "flying practice" in case she goes abroad!). I looked into the ferry (not sure if you took your car) but for a week with car and 4 passengers it looks to be costing around £800 for the ferry alone! and I thought the IoW ferry was expensive!!). Combination of flight, stopping at a hotel (I prefer self catering) and having no car put me off going plus for 2 nights I thought it was expensive!

Pam said...

It's nice to have the time to yourself to explore isn't it :) I do like the filter on the photos though agree it probably wouldn't have looked so good in a church!

Ragged Robin said...

Pam - Thank you and yes it is nice to be on your own sometimes as you don't have to rush! Although to be fair my son is good when we go out and never rushes me. Filter is a bit different - looked ok on the garden and flower photos :) As Amanda suggests above will have to experiment in the garden!

Midmarsh John said...

RR: I visited the IOM many years ago before I had a car. Rail to Liverpool and ferry to Douglas. It sounds an expensive ferry trip now.

Rosie said...

I like the contrast between the two types of photos, the filtered ones make it look such a hot day. We saw the garden in April when we visited a few years ago so it wasn't as lush and green as in your photos, it is a lovely garden and I'm glad that EH decided to restore it. Look forward to seeing which church you visited:)

Ragged Robin said...

Midmarsh John - It does sound expensive - not sure which website OH used to check it out - perhaps you can get it cheaper as it sounds extortionate to me! There again if the 4 of us flew it might come to that much! I know it cost nearly £600 for the 2 of them for the flight and hotel which was another reason I decided not to go!

Rosie - Thank you. It was rather hot!! I did like the filtered ones of the actual garden and roses but it did rather bleach out the carvings on the fountain! We visited in January so it was even barer! The church was St Nicholas not far from the castle plus a quick look round the abbey ruins :)

The Quacks of Life said...

You need to fly πŸ˜‰

I'm not sure what I think about the garden... Bit of a pastiche? I wasn't enamoured but aging may have improved it.

It is frustrating when you turn something on and can't get it off!!

Hello Timothy... We're still waiting πŸ˜‰

Ragged Robin said...

The Quacks of Life Thank you and I know! :)

Actually I didn't think I would like the garden but it turns out I did find it rather nice. I quite like the idea that using Langham's descriptions they have tried to make it as close to the original as possible.

When I first used the camera I tried to learn all the menus but because I mainly just change the aperture and iso and use the macro setting I had forgotten how the menus worked!! I didn't dare set camera back to factory settings in case I lost photos just taken! I still don't know how I turned it on!

Timothy waves back and hopes soon :)

Rohrerbot said...

Carrot cake. It sounds wonderful. Those gardens are absolutely beautiful. One of the things I loved about your area was the great detail spent on backyard gardens. I fell in love watching the birds around those spaces. Especially on a cold and drizzly morning. I hope you were able to figure out the setting issue. It looks like you did from your other posts. Still very cool!

Ragged Robin said...

Rohrerbot - Thanks Chris. Carrot cake is one of my favourites :) It is lovely to encourage birds into gardens and enjoy watching them :) Yes thank you I finally sorted it out when I got to the car after the castle. I had been trying to turn it off in the filter menu which didn't work but I eventually realised I could go further in the menu and select no filter!! I still don't know though how on earth I managed to turn it on!!!

CherryPie said...

Lovely views of the garden. It looks like Timothy was enjoying the leisurely visit with you :-)

Ragged Robin said...

CherryPie - Thank you. Yes Timothy did enjoy - it was warmer than his last visit :)